Opinion

Back to (Summer) School

For the first time in nearly four full months, school is back in session in Southern Boone County. Whether or not you agree with the decision to send kids back to school during a worsening pandemic, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that being a superintendent of schools in the

[ Read More ]

The Nature and Industry of Country Spiders

Early one morning in late spring, Boomerang Creek was awash with spider webs cast out on land and in the air.  Across the meadow’s sea of grass, delicate gossamers of spidery silk woven in the night sparkled with dewdrops in the dawn light.  Wherever there is a tree branch, barbed wire fence line, porch post

[ Read More ]

Happy Anniversary to Me

This week marks the ninth anniversary of my debut as a columnist at the Journal. That is officially the longest period of time in which I have been employed in any occupation. Besides publishers Bruce Wallace and Gene Rhorer, I have someone else to thank for my longevity in the newspaper: You the reader. It

[ Read More ]

What Past Pandemics Teach Us

Over the past four years, Turkish author Orhan Pamuk has become an expert on what pandemics teach us.  The Nobel Prize winning author has been writing an historical novel set in 1901 during what is known as ‘the third plague.’  In a NYT article (April 24,2020) Pamuk wrote “it is about an outbreak of bubonic

[ Read More ]

The Magic of a Gravel Road

When I was a teenager in Hannibal, Missouri, (a lifetime ago), my friends and I spent most of our weekends cruising up and down the endless miles of gravel roads that connected the communities of Saverton, Palmyra, New London, Center, and Perry to America’s Hometown. We were young and carefree—and careless and reckless and thoughtless

[ Read More ]

Of Writers and their Cats

What did I know of cats as a child?  When did a cat first allow me into its life?  Is a person whose given name begins with “CAT” destined to become an ailurophile (cat lover)? Or is it because I’m a writer?  On the subject of cats, Canadian journalist, novelist and playwright William Roberson Davies

[ Read More ]

Are these MY people?

Fully aware that I am a teacher who believes in public education, an acquaintance recently said he hopes schools switch over to online-only learning permanently—even after the coronavirus pandemic is over. When I asked why, he looked me in the eye and said, “Getting rid of all those worthless teachers would cut my property taxes

[ Read More ]

The Magic of Bees and Fireflies

My mind is a beehive of activity these mornings.  On my early morning walks, I look for wild black raspberries that ripen every June along our southern woods.  In a nearby row of sweet gum tupelo trees, a red-winged blackbird emits a crack of alarm like a rifle shot, annoyed that I’m about to harvest

[ Read More ]

Checking My White Privilege

In the early 1990s, I worked at a small grocery store in Columbia, Missouri, called Eastgate Foods. It was a grimy little building situated on the dimly lit corner of Old Highway 63 and East Broadway. A far cry from the shiny new supermarkets that have taken over Columbia in the years since, Eastgate was

[ Read More ]

Shared Meals and Conversations

“Come to the table,” Lamya announced.  Thus began the sharing of a meal and conversation at the home of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi and his wife Lamya Najim.  Sharing conversations over meals with the Hamoodis and their five children—all born and raised in Columbia—has been part of a remarkable journey that has brought us together often

[ Read More ]